Olivia Munn Used 'Tattoo Makeup,' Grew Hair Long to Hide 'Dents' and Scars From Double Mastectomy (Exclusive)

'Sometimes it makes me a little sad that I still want to hide certain aspects,' she tells PEOPLE. 'But then I remind myself that those are battle wounds'

<p>Getty Images</p> Olivia Munn at the 2024 Oscars.

Getty Images

Olivia Munn at the 2024 Oscars.

Olivia Munn is opening up about the “battle wounds” left behind from her breast cancer journey.

The 43-year-old actress and PEOPLE cover star was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2023 and underwent a double mastectomy 30 days later. In the months following her first three surgeries and eventual reconstruction, Munn had to learn to adapt to her new body. Attending the 2024 Oscars and Vanity Fair Oscars after party posed a particular challenge, as at that point, she had not yet shared her diagnosis with the world.

“I have some divots and dents on one side of my body near where the lymph nodes were, and they had to really dig out,” Munn tells PEOPLE. “And I've been wearing some dresses on the red carpet that made me a little stressed out at times.”

The star adds that her makeup artist, Diane Buzzetta, “learned how to do tattoo-type makeup” ahead of appearances like the Oscars, which she attended with her partner John Mulaney. The couple share a two-year-old son, Malcolm.

At the Academy Awards, Munn wore a halter-style chrome column gown by Fendi and later changed into a white strapless dress.

<p>Arturo Holmes/Getty</p>

Arturo Holmes/Getty

Related: Olivia Munn Says Not Being Able to Pick Up Son After Mastectomy Was 'One of the Hardest Things’ (Exclusive)

“We're trying to really cheat where the dents are and how to make it really smooth and cover up everything, so that I could wear it,” she recalls. “It's not something I can do by myself, but knowing that there's that option for when I'm in front of the camera has made me feel a lot better about things. And then personally, the people in my life who see it don't see them as imperfections. So, that's a good feeling, too.”

Munn tells PEOPLE that she grew her hair out in order to help conceal her scars.

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/ryanwestphoto/?hl=en" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Ryan West</a></p> Olivia Munn.

Ryan West

Olivia Munn.

“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think, ‘Oh, my hair is so long now and it's because of this,’” she says, referring to her cancer battle. “And sometimes it makes me a little sad that I still want to hide certain aspects. But then I remind myself that those are battle wounds and I can show them what I want and I can hide them when I want.”

“I don't beat myself up for anything I'm feeling on any given day, I just let myself feel it," she adds. "There's a really nice peace that comes with that."

Though she admits it can be challenging to embrace her new body, Munn says that ultimately, she’s grateful that she “got the opportunity to fight” and is “really happy with whatever it is I look like now.”

“It’s different once you actually do the reconstruction and it's much better, but it's not the same,” she says. “And that's okay because I'm here, and I'm extremely happy that I had the option to have a double mastectomy. I'm extremely happy that I got the opportunity to fight. I was given that chance, and I know a lot of people in my situation don't have that opportunity and don't have that as an option.”

<p>Matt Winkelmeyer/VF24/WireImage</p> John Mulaney and Olivia Munn at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscars After Party.

Matt Winkelmeyer/VF24/WireImage

John Mulaney and Olivia Munn at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscars After Party.

Munn, who set to begin filming her new Apple TV+ show Your Friends and Neighbors opposite Jon Hamm soon, says she’s a “different version of myself now” — and with that has come some positive changes.

“I'm much more forgiving of myself,” she says. “And it's really fun to go back to work without all of the doubt in your head… when you're acting, you really need to be able to really be in the moment.”

“I think I was always able to do it, but it was harder to do because you really have to quiet all the outside noise,” she continues. “But I'm just a lot kinder to myself, which means every day is a lot easier to take on and manage.”

<p>Getty Images</p> Olivia Munn at the 2024 Oscars

Getty Images

Olivia Munn at the 2024 Oscars

Related: Olivia Munn’s ‘Terrifying’ Breast Cancer Diagnosis After Baby Joy: 4 Surgeries in 10 Months, and Medically Induced Menopause (Exclusive)

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Munn first revealed her breast cancer diagnosis in March 2024.

The diagnosis came as a shock to the actress because her annual mammogram just three months prior had come back clear, and Munn had recently tested negative for the BRCA cancer gene. “I was walking around thinking that I had no breast cancer,” she tells PEOPLE. “I did all the tests that I knew about.”

Within 30 days, Munn underwent a lymph node dissection, a nipple delay procedure (a surgical procedure which spares the nipples) and a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery last fall.

Munn's lifesaving diagnosis was due to her ob-gyn’s decision to calculate her lifetime breast cancer risk score during a routing Pap smear using a free online tool called a Tyrer-Cuzick risk assessment calculator. Within minutes, Munn's results came back showing she was at high risk for breast cancer, prompting her doctor to order a MRI.

Today Munn is determined to raise awareness for other women at risk, crediting her ob-gyn's decision to calculate her lifetime cancer risk as the one that saved her life. “If it wasn’t for Dr. Aliabadi, I’d still be going through life not knowing that I had breast cancer,” Munn tells PEOPLE.

Related: What Olivia Munn's Doctor Wants You to Know About Your Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Score (Exclusive)

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